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Rhetoric and the Discourses of Power in Court Culture

China, Europe, and Japan

edited by David R. Knechtges and Eugene Vance

Publication Year: 2004

Key royal courts - in Han, Tang, and Song dynasty China; medieval and renaissance Europe; and Heian and Muromach Japan--are examined in this comparative and interdisciplinary volume as loci of power and as entities that establish, influence, or counter the norms of a larger society. Contributions by twelve scholars are organized into sections on the rhetoric of persuasion, taste, communication, gender, and natural nobility.

Published by: University of Washington Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-2

The conference “Court Culture East and West in Cross-Cultural Perspective” was the outgrowth of an international collaborative research project supported by the University of Washington, the University of California at Los Angeles, and National Taiwan University. The purpose of this project was to initiate regular meetings among a group of scholars from diverse fields so as to investigate the role of the court in the cultures...

Part I: Rhetoric of Persuasion

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p. 3-3

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1. The Rhetoric of Imperial Abdication and Accession in a Third-Century Chinese Court: The Case of Cao Pi’s Accession as Emperor of the Wei Dynasty

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pp. 4-35

By the end of the second century, the Han ruling house had lost much of its power over the imperial realm. Eunuchs, distaff relatives, and central government officials contested control of the court. In 184, Taoist-inspired uprisings broke out in various parts of the empire, and regional leaders quickly took advantage of the turmoil to establish local power bases for...

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2. The Court, Politics, and Rhetoric in England, 1310-1330

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pp. 36-72

At last they came to Berkeley Castle, where the noble king Edward, exercising the virtue of reclusiveness, as an anchorite, and like Saint Job deprived of his temporal kingdom, honors, and the use of his lordship, not by foreigners but by his wife, servants, and maids, patiently awaited the eternal kingdom for the earthly. His wife Isabella, impatiently suffering because the life of...

Part II: Rhetoric of Taste

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p. 73-73

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3. Poems for the Emperor: Imperial Tastes in the Early Ninth Century

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pp. 73-93

It is well known that the compilation of works by multiple authors in China is a practice as old as the textual tradition itself. Most of the Confucian classics, for example, are essentially anthologies—of poetry, of historical, expository, and rhetorical prose, and of writings on ritual. This impulse to select and preserve literary texts was extended, time and time again, from such repositories of moral wisdom and historical exempla to other...

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4. Claiming the Past for the Present: Ichijō Kaneyoshi and Tales of Ise

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pp. 94-116

The phrase “Japanese imperial court” almost automatically brings to mind the mid-Heian era (794-1185), the era of the potentate Fujiwara no Michinaga (966–1027), and the court ladies Murasaki Shikibu and Sei Shōnagon. Yet it is also common knowledge that the court continued long after the end of this so-called golden age. The court of the Retired Emperor...

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5. The Emperor and the Ink Plum: Tracing a Lost Connection between Literati and Huizong’s Court

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pp. 117-148

Accounts of painting during the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries in China (the last four decades of the Northern Song dynasty) have traditionally featured a dichotomy between two groups of painters and their distinct styles: the amateur, or literati artists and their “professional” or imperial Painting Academy counterparts. The latter are known for their technical...

Part III: Rhetoric of Communication

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p. 149-149

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6. Personal Crisis and Communication in the Life of Cao Zhi

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pp. 149-168

The establishment of an imperial bureaucratic state, increased attention to the aesthetic as well as the pragmatic aspects of composition, and a tendency toward categorical thinking—with its emphasis on classifying and ordering the phenomenal, intellectual, and social world—all contributed to a growth in the variety of prose genres recognized by Chinese authors in...

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7. Keeping Secrets in a Dark Age

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pp. 169-198

If we listen carefully, we can almost hear the faint whispering of the early medieval court, almost see two powerful courtiers draw close to a window outside the emperor’s bedchamber in the palace at Aachen to talk quietly about stolen saints’ bones.1 They spoke in hushed tones, but then one of them was a thief, and neither of them dared wake the emperor.2 Years later...

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8. The Politics of Classical Chinese in the Early Japanese Court

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pp. 199-238

The Chinese language, or to be more precise, the classical Chinese written language, has been an integral part of Japanese culture from the beginning of that nation’s recorded history. It was in the Chinese language that Japan first appears in writing, in the form of passing references in Chinese sources dating from the second century B.C.E. Japanese archaeologists have...

Part IV: Rhetoric of Gender

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p. 239-239

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9. One Sight: The Han shu Biography of Lady Li

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pp. 239-259

The story is told in “The Biographies of the Imperial In-Laws” in Ban Gu’s (32-92 C.E.), History of the Former Han:
Emperor Xiaowu’s Lady Li originally entered the court as a performer. Earlier Lady Li’s brother Li Yannian had an innate understanding of music and was skilled at singing and dance. Emperor Wu [Xiaowu] was quite fond of him...

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10. Poetry of Palace Plaint of the Tang: Its Potential and Limitations

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pp. 260-284

The “poetry of palace plaint” (gongyuan shi 宮怨詩), refers to poems centered on the frustrations of neglected palace ladies in the imperial harem. A variation of “poetry of boudoir plaint” (guiyuan shi 閨怨詩), it focuses on a special group of elite women who resided in the imperial palace and whose primary goal in life was to serve the emperor...

Part V: Rhetoric of Natural Nobility

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p. 285-285

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11. Dante in God’s Court: The Paradise at the End of the Road

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pp. 285-320

The concluding cantos of Dante’s Paradiso not only fulfill his decades-long poetic cult of Beatrice with a full-blown mystical rapture; they are also the culmination of his ambition, as a poet and not as a philosopher, to reshape the medieval debate about the meaning of nobility and at the same time to redefine the proper ends of a poetic style that was the hallmark of court...

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12. Practicing Nobility in Fifteenth-Century Burgundian Courtly Culture: Ideology and Politics

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pp. 321-342

In 1449–50, one of the foremost knights in the service of Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy, Jacques de Lalaing, performed a series of acts that fit exactly into our present-day ideas of chivalric romance. Lalaing organized a deed of arms or knightly tournament called the Fontaine aux pleurs (Fountain of Tears) near the town of Chalons on an island in the Saône...


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pp. 343-351

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780295802367
E-ISBN-10: 0295802367
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295984506
Print-ISBN-10: 0295984503

Publication Year: 2004